“Do you miss him?” I know I shouldn’t have asked but I couldn’t stop myself. He sighs, “No.”
Also on a separate note I'm looking to co-write with someone. Let me know if anyone'd be interested.
I look myself over in the mirror. Hell, even I don’t recognize me. My hair is short and blond and neatly parted at the side. I even fucking gelled it. Cue the apocalypse. Blue eyes stare back at me through large, thick framed glasses. Heavy makeup has been applied all over my body, so that none of my tattoos are visible and I have taken out all of my piercings. I am wearing a light blue polo shirt (“To match your eyes,” she’d laughed) tucked neatly into khaki pants.
“I look like a nerd,” I mutter.
“Perfect,” Jamia says, walking up behind me. “Talk with an accent and they’ll never know it’s you.”
She turns and walks toward the door, obviously expecting me to follow her. But I don’t, I keep staring at the mirror, wondering. Sure, I look really different, but is that enough? I remember times when I could tell you who was walking down the bus aisle just from the sound of their footsteps. Or when Gerard dyed his hair snow white then fire engine red, but I could still pick him out in a crowd without even thinking about it. Or when Bob left and the feeling on stage was completely different, even though our new drummer played the songs perfectly. I mean these guys know me better than I know myself, how could they not recognize me?
But I know why. Because they’re not expecting it to be me. And honestly, they don’t want it to be me. So subconsciously they’ll help me out. They’ll try NOT to see me when they look at Jason Demarko. They’ll try to believe he’s just Jason Demarko, Jamia’s pet guitar tech. And that’s all I’ll be.
I glance one more time at my reflection and see Jamia tapping her foot impatiently in the doorway behind me. Honey, this mirror isn’t big enough for the two of us, I think, and smirk. Then I rip my gaze away from the mirror and follow her out, leaving my two garbage bags of shit behind. It’s stuff that’s instantly recognizable as belonging to Frank Iero. I can’t take that stuff on tour. Jamia got me a bunch of new clothes. Nerd clothes. Those two bags hold my former life, and I’m walking away from it. The only thing I’ve saved is that old picture. Jamia doesn’t know I still have it. She’d be furious. If anyone found it, there’d be a lot of explaining to do. Nobody has a copy of that picture except me, and the guys would recognize it instantly as mine. But I can’t let it go. I need that picture, it’s all I have left.
I follow Jamia out to her car. It’s about an hour drive to where we’re meeting the busses to leave. She uses the time to fill me in on who I am.
“Your name is Jason Demarko, you’re from Cleveland Ohio, you’re an only child and your parents are still in Cleveland. No wife, no children. We met in an airport during a layover and have been close friends since. Before this you were an accountant,” she smirks.
The rest of the car ride is full of various other insignificant details that I’m sure I won’t remember and when we finally reach the parking lot full of busses and trailers I’m dying to get out of the car. But as soon as I do I wish I hadn’t. I’m about to meet the guys. About to go out on tour. It’s what I want more than anything, but I never wanted it like this.
Sighing I walk around to the trunk, open it, and pull my bags out. Jamia grabs hers and I follow her over to the commotion. We weave through the maze of busses until she stops suddenly.
And there they are, my four best friends in the world.
“JAY! You’re here,” Ray practically shouts. I can feel myself wanting to tease him about his endless enthusiasm, but I don’t.
“Hey guys,” Jamia calls out, leaning in to give each of them a hug. Then she steps back and introduces me. “Guys, this is Jason.”
Gerard extends his hand and smiles. I realize I haven’t honestly seen him smile at me in over a month. I take it and shake it briefly before letting go. “Gerard,” he introduces himself.
I almost say ‘I know’ but I stop myself. Because I don’t know. Well, Jason doesn’t know. The rest of the guys introduce themselves in the same manner. Then Gerard turns back to me.
“Hey, there’s been a bit of a problem organizing everything on such short notice, and since we didn’t fire any guitar techs before adding you there’s kind of no room on the bus that the techs share. So, um, you can’t stay there. But there’s an extra bunk on our bus and Jamia has said nothing but good things about you, so if it’s alright with you, you’ll stay with us.” He ends with a smile.
I’m speechless. It’s hard enough spending this much time with them, let alone living with them again. I wasn’t prepared for this.
I try to manage a smile. I probably look constipated. “That’d be great,” I say, just barely remembering to disguise my voice.
“Sweet, we’ll get you all settled in then.” The rest of the guys and Jamia are moving towards the bus doors but I can’t move. Gerard stays with me and looks at me carefully. Everyone else is on the bus already.
“You know, you remind me a bit of Frank,” he says. I stiffen. Already? I’ve only been here five minutes and I’ve blown it already?
“You mean the other guitarist?” I ask, feigning ignorance.
“Yeah.” He sighs. “The other guitarist.” He seems sad as he says that.
“Do you miss him?” I know I shouldn’t have asked but I couldn’t stop myself. Realizing that might be a bit too touchy feely for a first meeting I add, “I mean, is it weird not having him on tour?”
He sighs, looking genuinely sad. “No,” he says and a line of pain runs through my heart. “I mean, yes. And no. I miss who he was. I’d give anything to have the old Frankie back. But with the way he’s been for the last month, the way he is right now. I dunno. It’s better that he’s gone.”
He glances up at me. There’s a long, thoughtful silence. “It’s the eyes,” he finally says. “You have Frankie’s eyes in blue.” Then he laughs, a sound I’ve sorely missed. “Wow, I swear I'm not hitting on you, man." he says, laughing.
If I were Frank, right now I’d be all over that. A million stupid comments and actions are running through my head right now. Grab his ass, kiss his cheek, tell him it’s hot. But I’m not Frank. I’m Jason. And Jason wouldn’t do that. Because Jason is a no fun accountant from Cleveland.
I pick up my bags and follow Gerard onto the bus. God this is going to be a long tour.